Library Connections

Entries Tagged as Libraries Without Walls

eBooks-from Follett to Gutenberg

August 23, 2013 · 500 Comments

Over the past two years, our district has tried to make a number of online resources (e.g., Learn360, Gale, Atomic Learning, Project Gutenberg, and Follett ebooks) available to students through our Destiny Library Manager system. This “one stop shop” strategy is designed for ease of use and to promote the school libraries as the place to go for both digital and print learning resources.

If your district is anything like ours, you may have been faced with declining budgets over the past few years, teachers who are interested in using ebooks, and a curriculum that includes classic reads. What does a district without funds do to make as many ebooks available to students and staff as possible? Although our initial collection began with Follett ebooks, we have added ebooks from three other sources:

•    Subscription services for Gale reference ebooks provided by the Oregon School Library Information System,
•    Project Gutenberg, and
•    Our very own middle school students (see previous post).

Now before you send your students off to the PG website, there are a couple of things to consider, for assistance age-appropriateness. PG contains many, many books — some you might want in your school library, but others that would be more appropriate for a different audience. With assistance from a regional librarian, Kate Weber at the Lane ESD, we imported MARC records from Project Gutenburg for age-appropriate classics. These books are available directly from PG, but again, focusing on the “one stop shop” model, we wanted these books to be available directly through our Destiny searches.

Kate compiled a list of ebooks from PG that were appropriate for schools (E-books from Project Gutenberg), listed a subset of those appropriate for elementary (E-books from Project Gutenberg for Elementary), and then wrote up a reflection of the books that she felt individual librarians might want to reflect upon before including them in their school libraries (Ebook records removed or reflected upon). Finally, she provided directions for importing e-book MARC records into Follett Circ/Cat and the MARC records for E-books from Project Gutenberg and the MARC records for E-books from Project Gutenberg for Elementary.

All of these resources are also available from our regional library conference page, where you will also find a fun Harlem Shake OASL Style video that we made that afternoon.

Yep, librarians are a fun group!

Lynn Lary is the Instructional Technology Specialist & Media/Library Coordinator for the Springfield Public Schools in Springfield, Oregon where she spends her time working with teachers and teacher librarians to support 21st century teaching and learning.

Visit her at Libraries without Walls — a professional development resource for classroom teachers.

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500 CommentsTags: Libraries Without Walls

Part 2: First Through Fifth Grade eBook Authors

August 08, 2013 · 25 Comments

In the first part of this blog post, I discussed our school’s launch into student authored eBooks.  I had started with our first grade teacher, Mrs. Stock’s classroom.  Part 2 of this blog post discusses the journey into into our fourth and fifth grade classes authoring of ebooks.

Mrs. Stocks, our first grade teacher, is always excited to utilize new skills and tools she takes away from workshops and conferences.  With her class, we used the same Book Creator app, but did a much simpler version.  Her class was working on a writing project and creating artwork to go with it.  We decided to teach students how to take a picture of their artwork and crop it.  I showed them how to use the iPad and the Book Creator app. 

They learned how to create a new book, label it with title and author, insert a picture, crop it, and move it, change the color  and font on a page, and to add text.  Their “ebook” was only one page that included their artwork, the title of their story that went with the artwork, and their name.  They then did a voice recording of their story, which the Book Creator app allows you to do (very cool!).  The final product was a one page ebook that looked similar to a cover to a book, but there was a button to tap that allowed the reader to listen to the story.  It was the perfect project for this age group!

Mrs. Weber, a fourth/fifth grade teacher, was working on autobiographies with her students and wanted her students to create ebooks for a final project.  When I told her about the Book Creator app, she was excited and decided to go for it.  Her students had a lot of typing to do which is not so easy to do on an iPad.  We decided to see if her students could copy and paste from Google Drive (all our students have Google Drive accounts) and once we found out it worked, she was off and running.

Can you believe all these projects were happening across grade levels, in three different classrooms, with only seven iPads and all at the same time?!  Well, obviously, not at exactly the same time, but teachers managed to work their schedules so that the iPads were shared between classrooms throughout the day.  It was an awesome accomplishment.

Once students were finished with their ebooks, I sent both an epub version and a PDF version to my computer where I could then upload them to our server (not the easiest task, but I am hoping we can figure out a better solution in the future).  I created a file folder for each teacher and put their students’ ebooks in their folder.  They then had a web address they could share with parents for them to view student work and for me to enter into our library collection for students who met the criteria. 

Mrs. Patterson had a night where she invited parents to come listen to their child share their book.  Mrs. Stocks created QR codes and attached them to student artwork so parents could scan the code and download the ebook while Mrs. Weber created a link on her web page to her classes ebooks.  I even have a link on my website where parents can access all the ebooks our students created this year.

Students that met the criteria for creating an ebook for the library (still very much a work in progress), will have their ebooks catalogued as a part of our library’s ebook collection.  Have you created ebooks on iPads?  Have they become a part of your library?  What guidelines must students meet in order for their ebooks to become a part of your collection?

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25 CommentsTags: Libraries Without Walls

Part 1: First Through Fifth Grade eBook Authors

July 30, 2013 · 23 Comments

Yes, you read correctly, first through fifth grade students authored their own ebooks!  This past spring I collaborated with three different teachers to help students write their own ebooks.

Last February our staff returned energized from IntegratED, a technology conference held in Portland, Oregon.  Several of the workshops focused on the many uses of the iPad in classrooms and teachers returned eager to make use of the seven iPads we have available for student use.  However, during lunch discussions and other casual conversations, I discovered that despite the great tools and ideas teachers had learned at the conference, there was still apprehension.  How would they use seven iPads when they had twenty-eight to thirty students in their classrooms?  Could first graders really handle this tool without one-on-one supervision?  What would the rest of the class be doing when seven students were using the iPads?  How could the iPads be used for what they were already doing in their classrooms? 

This past year, my principal built some collaboration time into my schedule in hopes that it would allow me time to come alongside teachers in their classrooms and support, collaborate, or build on what they were teaching.  It had been a slow start, as teachers were not used to having this opportunity and were not sure how to utilize me given the limited time they have available to plan.

I decided to start with one teacher and see what would happen.  Mrs. Patterson had a first-second grade blend classroom  and when I spoke to her about using our set of seven iPads in her classroom she was interested but was not sure how to best utilize them with her students.  After a discussion about what she was currently teaching,ereader photo 1 photo ereaderpicture1.png we came up with a plan.  Her students were about to begin research on an animal of their choice.  Once they finished their research they were going to write a report. 

I suggested they could create an ebook as their final product using an app on the iPad called Book Creator, by Red Jumper Studio.  I found the resource through Silvia Talisano’s blog.  It is one of the easiest, most user friendly book creation apps I have found.

ereader photo 2 photo Ereaderpicture2.png

We discussed ways to rotate students through stations all tying into their animal study and divided the class into four groups of seven, which would rotate through stations: animal art, partner reading, research, and writing on the iPads.

The students learned how to use the iPad with ease.  Once I showed them how to use the app and insert pictures, they took off.  Students now know how to write text, change the font size and color, select a page background color, insert an image, and even record their voice.  It was fun to see Mrs. Patterson gain confidence as well.  As she saw how easily the students learned to use the iPad and the app she began to feel confident herself in using it.  Eventually, she did not need me to be there as often or for as long. 

Amy Page is a K-5 library media specialist with a passion for reading, learning, technology, travel, and adventure.  You can connect with her by leaving a comment below.  Check out her library blog.

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23 CommentsTags: Libraries Without Walls

Middle School Students as eBook Authors

July 17, 2013 · 36 Comments

One day I made a casual comment to an innovative middle school teacher who had participated in last year’s Libraries without Walls training: “Why don’t you have your students write their own ebooks this year? We could put them right into our own library system...”

Six weeks later: “My students are almost finished with their ebooks! They have been totally engaged every day for every minute. How do I get them into the library system?”

This past fall, for the very first time, students in the middle school elective technology course were required to publish an ebook consisting of an original piece of fiction, original works of art (hand or computer illustrations and/or photos), cover, title page, and summary. Books, divided into chapters, ranged in length from 4 to over 50 pages. Skills included the manipulation of text, images, and drawings in word processing programs, coding the headings, and understanding the formatting for different file formats such as .docx, .pdf, and .epub.

Technological, reading, and writing skills were all taught/reviewed/modeled throughout the project, as was appropriate use and internet safety. Dreams of Dance (this is an epub file) is one of the books that was published; when you view the book, note that the photos were taken in such a way that student privacy was maintained (no faces are showing).

Students collaborated throughout the entire course of the project. Writing “in the cloud” provided a way for students to peer edit their stories and to provide feedback to peers throughout the writing process. The classroom teacher worked collaboratively with both the school’s media specialist and the district’s library media coordinator to develop a process for contributing MARC records to Destiny and hosting student work for worldwide distribution. All ebooks, including those from special education and TAG students are available on the Resource List of the Briggs Library.

Ebook Formats — There are many different types of file formats for ebooks. The most popular one is epub — this file format is nicely displayed on ereaders (e.g., iPads, Nooks) and simulates the look (e.g., page turning) of a real book. These files may be viewed on computers, but the look will depend upon the ereader software installed on the computer and may not have that "book like" look.

There are a couple of options for creating an eBook. The thing you must decide on is who is your intended audience (computer users or ereader users) and what kinds of files will they be able to easily access (epub or pdf). Creating epub files on computers (when you don't have a budget for fancy software) sometimes can be a little tricky because the formatting may not look "just right." That said, if you are designing for reading on a computer, you may want to save your book as a PDF. Most computers have software installed for viewing PDFs and the formatting will look pretty much the same as how you intended.

Publishing — It is important to celebrate all of our students' writing and to publish it for the world. And how cool is it for the kids to have their books formally included in the library with their own MARC record and author information!   That said, there are two approaches we have now adopted when publishing student ebooks: informally via a classroom website/Google Drive and formally through the school library.

Formally including the book in the library requires collaboration with your school librarian and a little extra legwork. It is recommended that you have a scoring guide for your finished products and that the books that are scored "exceeds" are the ones that are put into the library. Considerations for inclusion in the library include server space for the files, cataloging and the creation of the MARC record, and book "expiration" (how long the book will be kept in the library and what is the process for "weeding" the books and associated MARC records?). For those books that don’t quite meet the criteria for formal publishing, storing them online and sharing them via a classroom web site is an easy way to recognize the authors.

For additional information, see the  eBook Authoring/Publishing information on our web site.

Coming soon? A blog post from Media Specialist extraordinaire Amy Page about ebook authoring at the elementary level.

Lynn Lary is the Instructional Technology Specialist & Media/Library Coordinator for the Springfield Public Schools in Springfield, Oregon where she spends her time working with teachers and teacher librarians to support 21st century teaching and learning.

Visit her at Libraries without Walls — a professional development resource for classroom teachers.

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36 CommentsTags: Libraries Without Walls

Reaching Out with iPads and ebooks

July 04, 2013 · 16 Comments

In my last post I wrote about a grant I received that allowed me to implement the use of ebooks and iPads in the library in which I work.  Though the program has been wonderfully successful in many ways, there have been a few obstacles to overcome.  The most frustrating was getting the device in the hands of students we felt would benefit most from its use.  These were readers that seemed to struggle to finish books either because of reading issues or simply because they were not interested and had yet to find that one book, you know the one, that opens the doors to all the wonders and adventures that can be found in reading.  These were the kids I really wanted to reach. 

Many of these students were targeted initially in the grant.  However, due to the potential financial burden should the iPad be lost or damaged, there were families unwilling to commit.  A few months after the program was in full swing, the chair of our Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) approached me with a question.  If the PTO were to purchase seven more iPads for our library, would it be possible to offer them to students regardless of whether they could replace the device should something happen to it?  She said parents were really excited to see ebooks in the library and would like to make them available to all students regardless of whether they could afford to replace the iPad should it be lost or damaged. 

Oh my!  What a fantastic opportunity!  Of course that would work!  Before I knew it, I had seven more iPads added to our collection! 

My next obstacle was getting parents and their children to a meeting where they would learn the basic features of the iPad and how to access and download ebooks to the device. During the meeting I would highlight the expectations and care of the device and before they left, parents and students would sign a contract stating that they were willing to follow these expectations.  This proved to be difficult because there were several parents who simply could not attend a meeting no matter when it was scheduled.  They either worked nights, did not have a car, or simply did not read the invitation sent home with their student.

Frustrated, I once again did some brainstorming and decided to train students on how to use the iPad for ebooks during library time.  I then called parents and informed them of the program, expectations, and care of the iPad.  All of the parents I spoke with were excited their child was getting this opportunity.  I told them to expect a contract to come home with their child and to sit down and discuss the contract with them before they both signed it and returned it to school.  Once I received the contract, their child was eligible to check out an iPad.

Success! Within a very short time I had all my targeted students signed on to utilize ebooks on iPads!  These students could barely wait for their turn to check out ebooks. Their faces lit up with excitement when they downloaded their first ebook on their device.  They were incredibly responsible with their devices, remembering to return them first thing on Tuesday morning.  They always logged their reading and shared their successes with me, eagerly showing me the books they had finished.  And many of them were finishing books! 

Since I have completed the expectations of the Ready, Set, (W)eRead grant, the ten “grant iPads” have been designated for ebook check out for any student whose parents have signed the internet waver and iPad check out contract. 

So what have I done with the other seven iPads the PTO gave to our library? I have collaborated with teachers to create ebooks authored by students!  Tune in next time to see how I worked with teachers from grades first through fifth to help students author their own ebooks.

Amy Page is a K-5 library media specialist with a passion for reading, learning, technology, travel, and adventure.  You can connect with her by leaving a comment below.  Check out her library blog.

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16 CommentsTags: Libraries Without Walls

Virtual Pens and Digital Ink

June 19, 2013 · 30 Comments

There is nothing like logging into the library system and seeing your own book review!

As we move forward with our new 21st century library program, students are encouraged to access/monitor their accounts, log in from both home and school, hold books, create and add to their reading lists, and read traditional and digital materials. Something as simple as encouraging students to use the filters in a Destiny Quest search to select books is an example of teaching students how to search using a database. These are basic library skills that all students can use at school and will use as they transition to life beyond school as public library patrons.

But our libraries and media programs are about more than teaching library skills, they are about giving students a voice in a world where anyone anywhere can be heard by millions of people. They are about providing students with opportunities for creativity and innovation, communication and collaboration, thinking critically, searching for information, living ethically in a digital universe, and using a whole host of tools that weren’t available not so long ago.

Providing students with the opportunity to share their love of reading by publishing their book ratings and reviews, allows students to dip their virtual pens into digital ink, giving them a voice like they have never had before. The second grade students who worked on their very first class-generated book review were so excited to see it posted that they wanted to run down to the library to see their reviews! Of course, they are just beginning to work toward the state/national Communication and Collaboration technology standard as they “use digital media and environments to communicate and work collaboratively, across the global community, to support individual learning and contribute to the learning of others.”

As students progress through the grades, the review process morphs and involves many different tools: at the 6th grade level, student pairs from different classes work together in “the cloud” (using Google Documents), contribute to a class blog, and finally publish their “partner novel” book reviews. These students are working at a deeper level as they, “Interact and collaborate with peers, experts, or others employing a variety of digital environments and media,” “effectively communicate and publish to multiple audiences using a variety of media and formats,” and “contribute to project teams to produce original works or solve problems in a team setting.”

As in many school districts, our libraries are staffed differently from school to school. In some schools, our library media specialists work with students on their reviews. However, in schools where libraries are staffed with paraprofessionals, classroom teachers are encouraged to participate in the “Libraries without Walls” professional development program, focusing on ways to engage their students (grades 2-12) in writing and publishing online, Amazon-style “crowdsourced” book reviews. Professional development addresses how students must have clearly articulated objectives so that they can compose well-written reviews. The objectives include:

•    Understanding what a rating means and how to rate a book;
•    Understanding the components of a good book review; and
•    Being able to clearly and succinctly state an opinion about the book with supporting facts.

To meet these objectives, students must think critically about the books they are reading and then communicate to others the key reasons for their recommendation. As with many projects, collaboration is key and occurs in various ways: students collaborate in the writing/revision process while classroom teachers and library staff work together to develop grade level book review criteria and align the activities with core content instruction.

Once classroom teachers have participated in professional development opportunities related to library tools and book review evaluation, understand the kinds of book reviews we want included in our library system, they are granted “review approval privileges.” Using Destiny’s Access Levels, they are given additional privileges so that they can approve student-written reviews. This has provided a means for teachers to become more involved in using our library services while at the same time has addressed concerns of library staff who could potentially be overwhelmed by the sheer volume of reviews that will result as greater numbers of teachers participate in this program.

The district’s Libraries without Walls web site is the virtual home for teaching resources. It was designed as a just in time “one stop shop” for learning about library resources anytime anywhere and includes online presentations, video clips, sample lesson plans on rating and reviewing books.

Check out these resources and let me know what you think by commenting below.  Do you have resources you would like to share or ways in which your students are using Destiny Quest? Please share them with me in the comments section below.

Lynn Lary is the Instructional Technology Specialist & Media/Library Coordinator for the Springfield Public Schools in Springfield, Oregon where she spends her time working with teachers and teacher librarians to support 21st century teaching and learning.

Visit her at Libraries without Walls — a professional development resource for classroom teachers.

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30 CommentsTags: Libraries Without Walls


May 22, 2013 · 29 Comments

The last two years I have spent updating the library in an effort to make it functional for accessing information and utilizing 21st century tools.  One of the biggest transformations our library has made is the transition to utilizing ebooks.  In 2011 our district library media coordinator, and I were awarded a CenturyLink grant which allowed us to launch "Ready, Set, (W)eRead".  We, along with two other librarians from our district, collaborated to build an ebook collection and planned for the implementation of ereaders in our libraries.  At the heart of the project is the desire to promote reading and literacy efforts, cultivate a love of and excitement for reading, and increase the number of books that are read by students.  The purpose of the grant was to redefine how our students perceive and read books. 

In essence, it is about redefining library for the 21st Century.

Our school library had a limited number of books; many of them were out-dated. Students with mobile devices who live within the city limits have access to thousands of ebooks through the Springfield Public Library to supplement what was missing in their school library.  The goal of this project was to provide students in rural areas (like the school in which I teach) with access to an online ebook collection.  By providing this access, students would have the opportunity to read more and have access to a wider variety of books. 

To begin we needed a device that would allow students to download an ebook and read it offline.  Though the grant was awarded in December of 2011, it took four months to research a tool that was user friendly, easy to manage, and that would accommodate ebooks that could be accessed by a wide range of devices.  Once we ruled out some of the more popular ereaders (Kindle and Nook) due to management issues and lack of versatility, we ended up settling on the iPad. 

We made up our minds after the updated version of our online library automation software, Follett's Destiny, was released in late January of Follett Digital Reader2012.  The update made accessing ebooks easy, especially when followed by the release of the Destiny Quest app and the Follett Reader for both the iPad and Android devices soon after.  And now, with subsequent updates, accessing our library's ebooks has never been easier.  A combination of grant and library funds were used to purchase approximately 350 ebooks and ten iPads for each of the three participating schools.

In an effort to seek out students who might benefit most from this highly motivational reading tool, librarians collaborated with teachers to assign two students each to an iPad.  We sought out students who were  reluctant readers for one reason or another hoping that interacting with text in a different way might enhance their reading experience.  The iPads alternate between student partners every two weeks to allow enough time to finish an ebook. 

Students take the iPad to and from school daily, and return it to the library each Tuesday for an overnight charge.  Instead of a paper reading log to show their progress, students log their nightly reading using the camera app.  They create one minute video summaries that show their understanding of what they read. 

Over the past year I have had the privilege of seeing incredible gains in students.  We have learned that ebooks are not for every student, but have proven to be a highly motivational tool for specific students.  Ebooks have taken the intimidation out of a big book, with small font, they have provided children with the opportunity to take risks in reading, and to discover who they are as readers.  In fact, many of the students who have used iPads in our library, end up not needing them any more, as their family ended up buying one once they saw how it increased their child’s motivation to read and gave them confidence. 

Amy Page is a K-5 library media specialist with a passion for reading, learning, technology, travel, and adventure.  You can connect with her by leaving a comment below.  Check out her library blog.

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29 CommentsTags: Libraries Without Walls

Inquiry, Investigation, and Integrated

May 08, 2013 · 8 Comments

Over the past year and a half we have been upgrading and maximizing our use of Destiny. For example, as a part of the updates to our library automation system and the tools that we make accessible for students, we started to look around at what we had that was being underutilized. One of the biggest resources are the online subscription database services from Gale that are provided by the Oregon School Library Information System (OSLIS) to all districts in Oregon. Typically, these databases are used in the library; classroom teachers don’t know what they are, nor do they teach students the specific search skills needed to efficiently access information.

There are two ways that we have tried to make these databases more accessible. First, we have embedded several of the Gale Widgets  on the front page of all of our libraries. By embedding the widgets, students can search the databases directly, and easily, from their library’s home page. At the elementary level, we have KidsInfoBits embedded; middle school students have access to Junior Reference Collection, Student Resources in Context, and Opposing Viewpoints in Context. At the high school, the Gale PowerSearch is displayed.

In addition, students can also include search results from these databases when they do  a power search in Destiny. At each level, media library specialists selected the databases that they felt were most appropriate and the databases were configured in the Destiny Catalog under Search Setup/Enriched Content Searches so that students could search them directly.

Some of you may wonder why we selected both options. For strong readers, the Destiny’s power search works well. However, for struggling readers, the presentation of the database resources is simply too difficult to access.

Our next steps are to review our usage statistics. Essentially, we’ll be looking at how our usage of the OSLIS resources has changed over the past three years.  In a quick look at the data, we can see some pretty drastic changes to our Kids InfoBits usage:

Year    # of Sessions    Total Searches

2010                     651                      4,444

2011                      544                      1,354

2012                    4,633                   13,472

2013                     2,541                   8,436

Finally, in our district, teachers are invited to attend technology integration field trips. I’d like to invite you to take a quick look at the short video and associated resources from Field Trip #6: Critical Issues  in which a classroom teacher and the school librarian team up on language arts TAG students. The unit uses library databases (Opposing Viewpoints, Learn 360, Citation Maker) and Google Docs.

For more information:

“OSLIS is a K-12 web portal providing access to quality licensed databases within an information literacy framework.  Learn more...

OSLIS is supported by the Institute of Museum and Library Services through the Library Services and Technology Act, administered by the Oregon State Library”

Lynn Lary is the Instructional Technology Specialist & Media/Library Coordinator for the Springfield Public Schools in Springfield, Oregon where she spends her time working with teachers and teacher librarians to support 21st century teaching and learning. 

Visit her at Libraries without Walls — a professional development resource for classroom teachers.

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8 CommentsTags: Libraries Without Walls

A Library Transformed

April 24, 2013 · 27 Comments

When I was assigned to teach in the library two and a half year ago, I spent the year happily engaging students in various reading activities, information and technology literacy skills, teaching students how to create BookTubes (similar to a movie trailer but for a book) and also collaborating with teachers.  Though I was constantly challenged with my workload (I had no idea librarians worked so hard), I really enjoyed what I was teaching and was thoroughly enjoying the new, updated library.  Surprisingly, at the end of the year, I was informed I had been transferred to teach library at another school due to changes in FTE. 

In my last post I briefly mentioned the state of my school’s library when I first arrived eighteen months ago: sixteen antiquated bubble Macs operating without high speed internet and no wireless access or digital media tools like a video or still camera.  Web 2.0 tools, teaching information and technology literacy, and creating BookTubes were out of the question in this outdated library. 

I contacted our district’s library coordinator, Lynn Lary, who just happens to also be our district’s Instructional Technology Specialist and asked for some ideas.  She worked to push the completion of the high speed internet installation which had been delayed for a variety of reasons.  She also personally visited my library and brought with her the head of our technology department, Brad McEntire. 

The parent community at Walterville is very supportive and one day while visiting with a parent, who happened to be very involved in our school’s Parent Teacher Organization (PTO), I shared my technology woes.  She suggested I approach the PTO for some help.  There just happened to be a PTO meeting the very next day.  I met with the PTO and shared with them how I would like to create BookTubes with students but that it was difficult to do with the lack of technology in our library.  I mentioned the importance of teaching information literacy skills and that these skills would be challenging to teach given the current state of our library.  Parents were very receptive to my ideas and the next day I was told the PTO was purchasing four desktop iMacs for the library!  Oh my, you can imagine my excitement!

I then applied for a grant from our local education foundation, Springfield Education Foundation (SEF), and was awarded enough money to purchase three more iMacs, making a total of six new desktop iMacs for our library!  I was ecstatic!  To top it all off, shortly after receiving my new iMacs, Lynn and Brad returned to my school to help me brainstorm how to organize my library and its new technology.  While we were making a plan I noticed they were planning for more computers than I had.  When I pointed this out, Brad and Lynn looked at me with a smile and told me they were going to match the number of computers I had received for our library!  That’s right, I was getting seven more iMacs for our library for a total of fourteen new iMac computers! 

They left me with that wonderful news and my dilemma of how to arrange all of these beautiful new computers in our school’s library.  What a wonderful problem to have!  Tune in next time to hear about how our library’s technology resources continued to grow with iPads and ebooks. 

Have you updated your library?  How did you do it? Shar e y0ur experience in the comments below.

Amy Page is a K-5 library media specialist with a passion for reading, learning, technology, travel, and adventure.  You can connect with her by leaving a comment below.  Check out her library blog.

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27 CommentsTags: Libraries Without Walls

What's Your Library's Destiny?

April 10, 2013 · 6 Comments

In my first post, I shared an overview of the transformation that has gone on in our district’s library/media program. Previous to the implementation of our 24/7 anywhere, anytime 21st century approach, our libraries were fairly traditional.  Our students and staff couldn’t log into Destiny because they didn’t have their own usernames/passwords so they couldn’t create book lists, hold books, read ebooks, check out ereaders, make promotional videos, rate books, write reviews, or author ebooks. There were subscription database resources provided by the state, but they didn’t really know how to access them and they were hard to access.

Multiple years of district budget cuts (approximately 30% decrease over the past four years) combined with a library system that hadn’t really been fed or cared for, resulted in a lack of available features, interest, and overall use. The destiny of our library system was not looking good.

With personnel cuts in August 2011, library services responsibilities were shifted from the curriculum department to instructional technology. And with this change also came the charge to develop a vision for how students and staff would interact, both physically and digitally, with our libraries. Our goal was to provide students and staff with a "one stop shop".  We wanted them to be able to access library resources, including ebooks, online databases, resources lists, and other Destiny tools 24/7.  We also wanted them to to interact with traditional library resources, and access digital content via computers or mobile devices from both school and home.

The first, and most important step, was to help our technology staff understand what we needed and why we needed additional access to tools and support.  To them, Destiny was running and library staff were able to check out books. Continually sharing what students were missing out on and the possibilities of what students would be able to do if we could move forward with increased support, was and continues to be, a key ingredient in partnering with our technology staff.

As we began our change process there were three initial steps that we took:

  • Upgrades- We were several major upgrades behind and these had to be done during the school year. This required server side support, backups, and upgrades. Without the upgrades, we would never be able to access ebooks — and that was a “must have” for our library program.

  • Patron Logins — Students and staff did not have usernames or passwords. This required working with our programmer who wrote, tested, and edited code in order to get data from our student information system it into Destiny. In addition to passwords and usernames, we were also able to auto-populate students into homerooms making it easy for staff to run homeroom reports. Without student logins, kids didn’t “own” their accounts nor could they check out ebooks.
  • Internet Access — There was some kind of magic that occurred so that our library system could be accessed outside of school. This was imperative because we wanted kids to be reading and access quality online materials from home and school.

Understanding how your technology department works is key. Often, they are overburdened and as a result  they are reluctant to make changes mid-year for the fear that things will “break” when they make upgrades — which can result in an interruption of services (e.g., no one can check out books for a week!). By presenting  your technology department with options for upgrades during non-student times (e.g., spring break, grading days), and clearly articulating what is needed and why it is needed, they may just be willing to help you  out more than you can imagine.

Stay tuned for more on our incredibly library journey!

Lynn Lary is the Instructional Technology Specialist & Media/Library Coordinator for the Springfield Public Schools in Springfield, Oregon where she spends her time working with teachers and teacher librarians to support 21st century teaching and learning. 

Visit her at Libraries without Walls — a professional development resource for classroom teachers.

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